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Iron Hands: Too Strong or Just the Flavor of the Month?

With the new codex, custom chapter tactics, models, and all the supplements, it can’t be any more clear that space marines are back on top in the competitive meta. Something that hasn’t been the case for these players since the earliest days of 8th edition. With the codex compliant chapters all receiving their own rules and abilities it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that each chapter might as well be its own faction with very unique considerations given to each one by all would-be opponents. However, not everyone is so elated with the changes. One chapter in particular, the Iron Hands, is being accused of being far too crunchy to play a fair game against. Which begs the questions; Have people not had enough time to develop an effective counter strategy to Iron Hands marines? or will Games Workshop simply need to give a firm smack down with the nerfhammer to even things out.

Pretend this is a Repulsor Executioner!

Lets look at some evidence that suggests how strong Iron hands are right now, and the latest grievance many hobbyists on reddit are using as justification that this chapter is simply too strong.

This was put together by r/Felgycat (who credits the idea to r/_Valdor_). This is from the Battle For Salvation GT in West Nyack, New York. Space Marines make five of the top 10, which is obviously great given how many people actually play space marines. But its Iron Hands specifically comprising 4 out of the 5 lists and taking a first and second place win (third place was a Raven Guard list). This is a GT consisting of 100 players too. In fact, space marines made 10 of the top 20. You can see the top 23 lists right here and see what kind of units these players brought for yourselves. What’s surprising is that most people were anticipating a veritable black sea of Relic Leviathan Dreadnoughts supported by Iron Father Feirros to make them nigh invincible, but…That simply wasn’t the case here. In fact, the champion list (played by Nick Rose) wasn’t even a full fledged Iron Hands chapter. Rather, he was using a successor! He combined the “Stealthy” chapter tactic (adds a cover save at +12″) and the “Master Artisans” tactic (each unit can re-roll a single failed to hit roll and a single failed wound roll each time it shoots or fights). Judging by the list, Rose sought to maintain board control for the entirety of the game between his 10 man incursor squad, scouts, and triple invictor warsuits. He also had access to a plethora of line of sight ignoring units in his eliminators and triple thundercannons.

The second place finisher (Mark Hertel) brought the Iron Father and the ironstone but mixed it up with three stormhawk interceptors and three storm talon gunships, really taking advantage of the ability to move and shoot with heavy weapons. Additionally he brought a Land Raider Crusader with twin assault cannons, a model widely considered worthless in the competitive scene, but when you have an army wide 5++/6+++ and combine it with the ironstone’s ability to reduce damage by one, you’ve added some real staying power to a list that was designed to mulch hordes and knights alike.

It stands to reason that Games Workshop should be a little concerned with the fact that Iron Hands seem to be a clear cut above their fellow brethren in the Adeptus Astartes. They didn’t just dominate at this GT, but just about every tournament they’ve been allowed to participate in. Don’t believe us? Here’s a list of GT’s compiled by “Panda’s Weekend Rundown (10/12-10/13)”

9 GT sized or greater events; 36 top 4 placings.

Of those, 24 were Space Marines or had a detachment.

Of those, 18 were Iron Hands.

Of the 9 events, Iron Hands won 7 of them; the eighth was White Scars with an IH successor detachment.

That’s 50% of all top 4 being Iron Hands; Space Marines 67%.

Into the Hellstorm 4

  1. Mike Porter – Iron Hands

  2. Andrew Wilcock – Chaos

  3. Simon Miller – Space Wolves/AdMech

  4. Simon Priddis – IH Successor

Michigan GT

  1. Thomas Ogden – Iron Hands

  2. Aaron Aleong – Guard/White Scars

  3. Elliot Levy – Orks

  4. Brad Chester – IH/RG

Battle for Salvation

  1. Nicholas Rose – Iron Hands

  2. Mark Hertel – Iron Hands

  3. Andrew Gonyo – RG Successor

  4. Sean Nayden – Eldar

Crucible

  1. John Lennon – WS/IH Successor

  2. Ruben Fernandez – White Scars

  3. Cody Saults – Chaos

  4. Daniel Smith – Iron Hands

Midtcon

  1. Thomas Dorner – Iron Hands

  2. Rasmus Olesen – Orks

  3. Kristian Krabsen – Iron Hands

  4. Andreas Drachmann – Orks

Fantasia 36

  1. Sami Keinanen – Iron Hands

  2. Mark Haatio – Ultramarines

  3. Robert Gustafsson – Iron Hands

  4. Tim Nordin – Guard/Iron Hands

Iron Monkey

  1. Doug Sainsbury – Iron Hands

  2. Andrew Bartosh – Raven Guard

  3. James Brown – Knights/BA

  4. Pascal Roggen – AdMech/Assassins/Knights

Seeds of Destruction

  1. Jay Maylam – GSC

  2. Jay Seebarun – Iron Hands

  3. Feliks Bartkiewicz – Iron Hands

  4. Liam Royle – DE/Harlies

Harbor Heresy

  1. Zachary Nelson – Iron Hands

  2. Ryan Lynn – Iron Hands

  3. Harrison Jewell – Raven Guard

  4. Colin Sherman – Tau

Now we love us some space marines but thats border line insane. It makes perfect sense for space marines to be in a powerful position given their prevalence, but this might just be overkill. However, there hasn’t been much time to really learn to counter these guys, and we probably have about six months or so before GW applies any rules changes for these guys. If nothing else, it seems that these flesh hating fighters are the new Imperial Knights soup, and its just something many players will have to deal with for the time being.

Get ready to hear this at every tournament you play!
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